The Casper City Council may get some answers this week about the massive sales tax error that cost the city $1.7 million in revenue.
Dan Noble, the director of the Wyoming Department of Revenue, will be speaking about the sales tax mix-up at the Council’s Tuesday work session, according to the agenda.
Councilman Dallas Laird said Friday that he’s eager to have a thorough discussion about the issue.
“We need to know exactly what happened so we can protect ourselves and make sure it doesn’t ever happen again,” he said.
The city mistakenly received an additional $1.7 million in sales tax distributions after a Sweetwater County vendor incorrectly reported its taxes in Natrona County. The error occurred from October 2013 to December 2015 and was detected during a routine audit, Kim Lovett, the administrator of the Department of Revenue’s Excise Tax Division, told the Star-Tribune in July.
After the state learned about the mistake, it deducted the money from Casper’s monthly sales tax distribution — much to local leaders’ chagrin. To soften the fiscal blow, city officials received a loan from the state that will give the city up to five years to pay back the money.
Lovett acknowledged that all of the parties involved in the mix-up are upset. But the administrator explained that the department relies on vendors to correctly report information.
“This is a self-reporting system,” she said.
Council members recently urged state lawmakers to re-examine the sales tax reporting system, according to Mayor Ray Pacheco.
“I think our state leaders understand [our concerns] and I would imagine that it’s going to be a topic of interest in the next election cycle,” he said last month.
Sen. Bill Landen, R-Casper, told the Star-Tribune in August that he planned to discuss the matter with officials at the Department of Revenue and the Department of Audit and see if they need additional resources and tools.
“I’m certainly going to try and lead an effort to look into every angle of this thing. We don’t want this to happen to any other county or municipality,” he said.
Rep. Tom Walters, R-Casper, agreed that lawmakers need to review the current system.
If taxpayers overpay the state, they only have a limited amount of time to notice the error and request a refund, said Walters. The representative said lawmakers should consider holding the state to similar standards.
“It is something that needs remedy,” he said.
Casper wasn’t the only entity in Natrona County affected by the error. The Natrona County government collected an additional $366,000. Mills ($108,000), Midwest ($13,000), Bar Nunn ($69,000), Evansville ($80,000) and Edgerton ($6,000) also received more than they were due.